December 11, 2012


Today: Twitter chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Today (Dec. 11) from 1-2 p.m., our own Dr. Melvin McInnis discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “winter depression,” in a “tweet chat” with ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser and several other experts on this topic. There are several ways to participate:

Everyone with an interest in this topic is invited to participate! Share your stories, ask questions, get answers!

Bipolar disorder stem cell research featured in Free Press

Stem cell science was recently profiled on the front page of the Detroit Free Press, in a major package of stories that focused a great deal of attention on U-M research in this promising field. Research from the U-M Depression Center and the Prechter Bipolar Research Program, where Melvin McInnis, M.D., Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression and Professor of Psychiatry, is working to understand the genetics of bipolar disorder using stem cells derived from volunteers’ skin cells, is featured prominently, as are U-M scientists Gary Smith, Ph.D., Sue O’Shea, Ph.D., and the work of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, part of the Taubman Medical Research Institute.

Below are links to the stories:

Personality and placebo response

People with certain personality traits responded more to a placebo than others, by producing natural painkillers in the brain areas shown in red and yellow.

According to new U-M-led neuroscience research, people with certain personality traits – such as resiliency, altruism, and straightforwardness – are more likely to find pain relief from a placebo (fake medicine). The results build on nearly a decade’s worth of work on the placebo effect by the team led by Depression Center member Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., the Phil Jenkins Professor of Depression in the U-M Department of Psychiatry, a professor in the Department of Radiology, and a member of the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute. The team hopes to continue the research in people with depression, and to continue to explore how genetics as well as personality influence placebo response. The study has been covered in news outlets from the Los Angeles Times to Scientific American and The Scientist.

Bringing depression awareness to college students

As part of the Depression Center’s Campus Mind Works student outreach initiative, and with support from the Steven M. Schwartzberg Memorial Fund, the Depression Center has partnered with the U-M Educational Theatre Company (UMetc) and University Housing to provide depression awareness/theatre presentations in U-M student residence halls during the 2012-2013 academic year. The presentations (7 have been conducted so far) include two mental health sketches performed by UMetc, and an informational presentation on:

  • recognizing signs/symptoms of depressive illnesses
  • supporting students with mental health disorders
  • strategies for prevention, self-care, and help-seeking
  • campus mental health resources and other support services

In surveys administered before and after the presentations, student attendees report increased confidence in their ability to identify and refer someone who may be struggling with depression or anxiety, as well as increased willingness to seek help for themselves if they were experiencing a significant personal problem.

Athletics and brain health

Sports, head injury, and depression were the topics of a Washtenaw Jewish News article which profiled Eric Hipple, former Lions quarterback and current Depression Center outreach coordinator, and Depression Center member Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D. The piece discusses Kutcher’s work as director of Michigan NeuroSport, a U-M sports neurology program devoted to research, education, and clinical care. It also mentions Hipple’s Under the Helmet program, which promotes mental health education in high schools, and the Depression Center’s Professional Athlete Evaluation Program, which assists athletes with retirement challenges.

Kutcher also recently spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer about the risk of concussion in sports. According to Kutcher, reported concussions among college athletes are up 30 percent since 2006, but few of these players have access to concussion experts to help manage their injuries.

Promoting resiliency for military spouses during deployment

HomeFront Strong, a resiliency group for military spouses and partners, was featured in a Veterans Day article in the Michigan Daily. The program focuses on building social support and positive relationships, learning new approaches to self-care, connecting to resources, and promoting resiliency and positive coping. Learn more...

Making connections across depression and bipolar research

An article in the A2 Journal provides a detailed profile of the project: this clearinghouse connects people living with depression or bipolar disorder to opportunities to participate in research across the country, and it also provides in-depth information about what it's like to participate in mental health studies. Visit the website to learn more...

Patterns of social isolation worldwide

The fall issue of Medicine at Michigan featured the work of Alan Teo, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at U-M and a Depression Center member, who documented the first case of hikikomori (social withdrawal) in the Americas. Evidence shows that this form of extreme social isolation, which is most prevalent in Japan, is becoming a growing global concern. Read more...

ER screening for eating disorders?

Could the emergency room be a good place to spot undiagnosed eating disorders among teens, and help steer them to treatment? In a new study published in the November issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers screened more than 940 teens and young adults aged 14-20 years for eating disorders, as part of their visit to the U-M Emergency Department for any non-psychiatric reason. They found that 16 percent – more than one in every 6 – had indications of an eating disorder. Those that did were also much more likely to also show signs of depression and substance abuse – conditions that often go hand-in-hand with eating disorders. Study authors included Suzanne Dooley-Hash, M.D., an emergency physician at U-M, Maureen Walton, M.P.H., Ph.D., research associate professor of psychiatry, and Yarden Ginsburg, M.S., a study coordinator with the Depression Center and Department of Psychiatry. 




Call for Nominations: Student Mental Health Advocate Award

Do you know a college student who has made remarkable contributions toward raising awareness of mental health issues on campus, advocating for outreach programs or campus mental health services, promoting healthy self-care, or helping to reduce the stigma of depressive illnesses? Students from any college or university who are outstanding leaders in campus mental health may be nominated for U-M's Student Mental Health Advocate Award! The deadline for nominations is January 18, 2013. Read more...

Call for posters: “Moving Toward Healthy Self-Care”

The Depression on College Campuses Conference is now accepting posters on healthy self-care. Faculty with selected posters receive free conference registration; students with selected posters traveling from outside Ann Arbor receive free hotel accommodations for the conference (and registration is free to ALL students!). Learn more...



Evaluating a video intervention to improve college student mental health

Daniel Eisenberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy, has been awarded a 2012 Innovation Fund Award from the Depression Center to evaluate the effectiveness of  the inkblots video series as an engaging and accessible medium for delivering evidence-based self-help skills to improve resilience and mental health. Eisenberg’s team will test the effectiveness of the videos (which are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles) among college students and will also begin to explore their application for large employer populations.

First M-Cubed awards include five Center members

MCubed is a two-year seed-funding program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of U-M faculty to pursue new initiatives with major societal impact. The first “cubing phase” of the program included five Depression Center members among the awarded projects, which require collaboration between three researchers from at least two different units:



December 12: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

December 13: Growing through Grief workshop (ANN ARBOR)

December 15: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

December 20: Growing through Grief workshop (YPSILANTI)

January 2: Family Education Workshop

January 9: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

January 10:  Growing through Grief workshop (ANN ARBOR)

January 17: Growing through Grief workshop (YPSILANTI)

January 23: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

January 25: Depression Center Colloquium
Impact of Concussive Injuries on Cognitive Functioning and Mental Health

February 6: Family Education Workshop

February 13: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

February 14:  Growing through Grief workshop (ANN ARBOR)

February 21: Growing through Grief workshop (YPSILANTI)

February 26-27: Depression on College Campuses Conference

We welcome suggestions about the content and format of this publication – please email with your feedback.




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